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August 19, 2004

Lileks on Department Stores, Fargo, Prairie Skies

The American Enterprise of last month has more good writing by James Lileks, "A Rich Boyhood in the Plain Void".

...And then you'd go to mom's favorite store, DeLendrecie's.

Cosmetics on the main floor, a mezzanine above, the hiss and thump of a message arriving via pneumatic tube. Downstairs was a small restaurant with a black-and- chrome counter (made by the same company that made the barbershop lather dispenser, you suspected). Going downtown with mom, having a soda at the counter, spinning around on the stool until you were green--you felt as if you were part of the adult world in a way you simply cannot get in a shopping mall today. The adults didn't look like plus-size children. The women wore dresses, hats, hose, and heels; what few men were about in the store were either natty snappy clerks or fellas in suits from the bank or the insurance office. A trip downtown was a trip into the world of money and work, a world completely separate from your world of school and play.

His observation is correct. Nowadays, adults do not want to be adults. They want to dress and behave like children, and have the government be the parents, but very lenient and wealthy parents.

A separate part of the article says,

You can't describe the vastness of the Panavision prairie to East Coasters. Either the idea bores them--sorry, if there's not an all-night Thai take-out every ten blocks I am so not there. Or it's incomprehensible--what, a dirt ocean that just sits there?

Yes. That's it. The earth is flat and the sky is big, and you're a small lone thing rolling between the two. True Midwesterners have no time for oceans--all that pointless motion. It comes in, it goes out. What's the point? True Midwesterners have no time for mountains. They're so obvious. They don't do anything. We have mountains, in a way; they're called clouds. And they move. Can yours do that?

This is not a novel point--I have heard it often from the Chemist from Montana--- but Lileks says it so well!

Posted by erasmuse at August 19, 2004 11:34 PM

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